West African sweet potato and peanut stew

bowl of stew

West African sweet potato and peanut stew

(gluten-free, opt. vegan, contains peanuts)

By Reeve Gutsell

Often referred to as ground nut stew, variations of this recipe are found across Western Africa. Thick, rich, and as spicy as you want it to be, this great meal has been in my regular rotation ever since I tried it.

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves 4 – 6

Note: This stew is often served with shredded chicken, but is easily made vegan.  It goes very well over rice or quinoa. The liquid levels can be adjusted depending on the desired thickness.



1 tablespoon olive oil

1 med onion, diced

1 lb chicken (breasts or thighs) – optional

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 – 3 tablespoons ginger, grated

1 – 2 diced chili peppers, 1-2 tsp powdered cayenne, and/or 1-2 tsp hot pepper flakes, to taste

2 med sweet potatoes, diced

4 cups vegetable broth (or water)

2 large tomatoes, chopped, or 1 can (15oz.) diced tomatoes

1 small can chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained

3/4 cup natural (unsweetened) peanut butter

2 large leaves fresh kale, large stems removed, chopped. Can substitute spinach, collards, or other greens.

2 tsp. cumin

Salt & pepper to taste


1/2 tsp cinnamon and/or cloves

1/2 tsp. coriander (Note: coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant – some people love it and some people think it tastes like soap.)

2-4 tbs lemon/lime juice to brighten the flavor if it seems too rich/heavy

2 tbs cilantro for garnish (See note on coriander, above.)

1-2 green onions, chopped, for garnish

1/3 c chopped peanuts for garnish



In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat and saute the onion, ginger, and chicken (if using) until the onion starts to soften, 3-4 min. Add garlic and chili peppers (if using) and and saute another minute or so.

Add the sweet potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork tender. Add tomatoes, kale, chick peas, peanut butter, spices, and salt and pepper. Mix well and cook another 2-3 minutes, until kale is bright green.

Garnish (optional) and serve alone or over your grain of choice.

Reeve Gutsell is the Food, Farm, and Sustainability Program Coordinator at Hampshire College. She has a Master's degree in Resource Management and Conservation, as well as a long-term interest in the intersection of agriculture, environmental issues, social justice, and food systems. She enjoys the walking around the farm in all types of weather, and almost always finds something beautiful or interesting to explore.
  1. Dawn Beckman Reply

    Wow, this dish is amazing – made some with and some without chicken – raves all around

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.